May 15, 2015

The Corporate Drug Cartel: On Sam Quinones’s ‘Dreamland’ 4


Quinones adds layers of nauseating detail: the exorbitant bonuses for Purdue salespeople who peddled OxyContin to primary-care docs under-trained in treating chronic pain; the promotional videos that under-reported the pill’s addictive potential; the OxyContin-branded hats, toys, mugs, golf balls, CDs, pads, and pens that rained down on doctors.

May 13, 2015

Down in the Oedipal Mud: On Kent Russell’s ‘I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son’ 13


Kent Russell, like John Jeremiah Sullivan, never adopts the let’s-laugh-at-the-Clampetts pose common to inferior writers of inferior non-fiction.

May 12, 2015

The Technological Panopticon: On Catie Disabato’s ‘The Ghost Network’ 0


The danger isn’t knowledge, but rather the loss of privacy; a panopticon is damaging precisely because constant observation erodes a subject’s will to resist. Without privacy, we become conformists, our own jailers.

May 12, 2015

A Portrait of the Critic as a Young Man: On James Wood’s ‘The Nearest Thing to Life’ 0


The Nearest Thing to Life gives us a profound portrait of an inimitable artist.

April 28, 2015

Clickworthy Headlines about ‘The Fishermen’ by Chigozie Obioma 3


In writing about a novel like The Fishermen, I find myself in a dilemma. I loved it. I’m tempted to make a grand claim about this book, but which should I make?

April 24, 2015

Fish Out of Water: On Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s ‘The Royal We’ 0


Underneath the frothy exterior is sharp look at the clash between modern women and the ways they are portrayed.

April 17, 2015

Like Father, Like Son: Literary Parentage in Reif Larsen’s ‘I Am Radar’ 4


Larsen acknowledges the great authors who came before him, how their influence on him is undeniable, unavoidable, deep –– but that he is still his own writer, one with formidable gifts and looming ambition.

April 15, 2015

Reign of Terror: Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s ‘Guantanámo Diary’ 0


The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was, in every sense, a moral and strategic catastrophe.

April 7, 2015

Love and Land: Ann Packer’s ‘The Children’s Crusade’ and the Legacy of ‘East of Eden’ 0


The inheritance of Steinbeck in Packer’s multigenerational novel is strong and diffuse.

April 1, 2015

Our Basest Instincts: On Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ 3


If 21st-century technology has made public shaming easier, faster, and more random, it’s also made us all targets. This book makes it clear than anything you say or do can be held against you in a court of opinion, by people who don’t know anything about you, in perpetuity.